Board of Education hears comments on transgender bathroom use in - WNEM TV 5

Board of Education hears comments on transgender bathroom use in schools

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

The state Board of Education held their monthly meeting to a packed room.

The topic: transgender bathroom usage.

The board released a memo in late February pertaining to safe and supportive learning environments for LGBTQ students. The memo said students should be able to use the bathroom in accordance with their gender identity, as opposed to the sex listed on their birth certificate.

"We want to send a message that, on a voluntary basis with local control, not what the legislature dictates, schools can create an environment where their gay kids and their transgender kids get a great education and aren't putting themselves in risk of their lives because they're not embraced and pushed away. That's the kind of state we want to be," said John Austin, Michigan Board of Education president.

Public discussion was mixed, but board members said their focus was on students.

"I think that every student has to feel safe so that's the bottom line," said State Superintendent of Schools, Brian Whiston. "We want to create an educational system where every student is supported. I do think the board is going to adopt a set of guidelines. The question is after all this input what kind of guidelines and where does it move forward?"

The board will take comments until May 11. After going through those comments, the board expects to develop some guidelines to be announced later this summer.

The Board of Education said the guidelines and recommendations would be provided to schools on a voluntary basis, meaning schools uncomfortable with adopting any or all the guidelines would not be required to.

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